What are Industrial Solvents and Where are They Typically Used?

Solvents can be defined as chemicals that are capable of dissolving, suspending, or extracting other substances, typically without causing changes in the chemical nature of either the solvent, or the materials being treated.

Solvents can be both organic and nonorganic. When a solvent is organic, it contains carbon. 

There are various types of solvents that have contrasting physical and chemical properties within one another. This means that they are applicable for different uses, and can be found in different products ranging from cleaners, degreasers, paints and adhesives, to personal care products like face cream or shampoo and pharmaceuticals.

Forms of solvents

Organic solvents are classified by their chemical structure. There are three main types, including:

Hydrocarbon solvents:

Aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons.

Oxygenated solvents:

Alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, glycol ethers, esters, and glycol ether esters.

Halogenated solvents:

Chlorinated and brominated hydrocarbons.

What are the common uses of solvents? 

Solvents are everywhere. Between household cleaning products, and industrialized manufacturing, solvents are a multi-purpose necessity. Solvents can ensure processes operate safely, and are considered a resourceful tool for different operations across different industries.

Between pharmaceuticals to individual coatings, solvent’s allow these industries to thrive as it can clean, remove, and separate waste. 

Typical solvent applications

There is a wide-ranging variety of solvents that have different chemical and physical properties. When you have similar forms of materials, they can dissolve each other. Applying a combination of solvents is often used in order to obtain the right balance within an application.

Typical solvent applications include:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Cosmetics
  • Agrochemicals
  • Paints and coatings
  • Cleaners and degreasers
  • Inks
  • Automotive


Whether it be from penicillin to viagra, the manufacturers of large amounts of everyday pharmaceutical products would be impossible without the inclusion of solvents in the operations of producing them. Solvents serve many purposes when helping to create pharmaceuticals, given that they solubilize the active materials within the operation, and also remove impurities formed in the reactions. Through removing them, this leaves only the pure form of the products that we use to get treated with.


As mentioned previously, a lot of products that we see and use in our everyday lives are produced as a result of solvents. This would include cosmetic materials such as baby oil and face creams, nail polish, skin lotion, and other types of moisturizers.


For modern farming, crop protection is an integral part to emphasize given that it is required to produce the vast amount of foods required to help feed a population that continues to grow. Solvents are very useful for the production and application for both fertilizers and crop protection formulas. 

Paints and coatings

When looking at paints or coatings, solvents tend to dissolve or disperse varying components of its formulation such as pigment and resin, allowing for the final product to have the desired consistency that is required. Once the paint has been applied, the solvents then evaporate, allowing for the resins and pigment to form a protective coat or film, and then eventually dry off.

Printing and inks

When looking at the printing inks used by daily newspapers and magazines, even the labels and packing used for goods ordered off of amazon, and foods, in general, depend a lot on solvents in order for the texts and designs to be applied properly and to stay in place. 

Through controlling the viscosity within the ink formulations, the solvents can allow for just enough ink to flow in order for the print on the magazines/labels/newspapers to be just visible to just the right extent in order to be effective. In the case of paint formulations, the solvents allow for the most efficient drying times, which allows for them to be used without the operations of today’s high-speed printing presses.


Solvents are extremely helpful with their assistance with regard to motor vehicles in more ways you would normally expect. Typically forming parts of the formulations that are present in cooling the engines and maintaining the breaks, solvents also play a huge role in ensuring that they are visible to see their path. These solvents have even shown the ability to be helpful amidst different seasons, given that during winter months when temperatures begin to lower, typically formulation would free based only upon water and a surfactant.

Do you have solvent needs? Maratek is here to help!

Maratek Environmental has prided itself in becoming an in-solvent business for over 30 years, with ambitions towards growing and adapting to the ever-expanding printing industry. 

For the last 10 years, we have been market leaders in solvent recycling and recovery, and we take pride in providing our customers throughout North America with reliable, innovative, and cost-effective recycling solutions. After purchasing Omega Recycling Technologies, Maratek has ensured to continue to meet the needs of our clients and provide satisfaction. 

Interested in learning more? Get in touch with our team today. We would love to answer any questions that you may have.